Region – State Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives recently to pass legislation that authorizes the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to investigate charges that someone has falsely obtained, or is falsely using, a handicapped parking placard or license plate. The legislation also allows the RMV to require documentation when determining if an applicant is eligible for a handicapped plate or placard.
State Sen. Eileen Donoghue (D-Lowell) originally filed the bill in the Senate which was adopted by the House. The legislation was fueled, in part, by the Massachusetts Inspector General Glenn Cunha’s findings from his February 2016 report on the subject. The inspector general’s report concluded that in Boston alone, 325 vehicles were displaying placards belonging to someone other than the car’s owner, including cases in which drivers utilized the placards to park for free at metered parking spaces close to their workplace. The report further estimates that when one individual misuses a handicapped placard for daily weekday parking, the city of Boston’s annual loss of revenue amounts to approximately $2,280.
“I am pleased to join my colleagues in supporting this bill. The improper use of handicapped parking is disrespectful and handicapped placards and license plates are an important accommodation for those individuals who rightfully qualify for and rely upon this designation as a means to fulfill their daily responsibilities and activities,” said Kane. “This legislation will help curb this insensitive behavior, which limits access and inconveniences our community members who are disabled or who have limitations.”
The House of Representatives and Senate each passed versions of this bill, with the difference lying in their effective dates. The Senate Bill would take effect 90 days after being signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker and the House bill cites a September 2018 effective date. Both bills would fine people who intentionally make false statements on handicapped plate applications or falsely report a lost placard with $500 for a first offense, and $1,000 for second and subsequent offenses.